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Monetization In The Age Of Ads And User Level Data

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Sarah Del Rosario
August 21, 2019

Sarah Del Rosario
Sarah Del Rosario has written 2 articles for WebKnowHow.
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Today, Free-to-Play publishers are transferring most of their revenue directly into User Acquisition (UA). Acquiring those users cost money but users also generate revenue. Usually you need to spend money in order to make money. Every last dollar becomes a valuable investment and each next install could be a whale worth $10,000. In 2019 however, there is a difference, for every whale there is an ad whale.

Ad whales are a small part of total app users who generate great mobile app revenue, simply by watching video advertisement or presentation. These users are essential in order to transform data from your ad account into actual revenue. And this is an important part of marketing management.

This event resulted to mass adoption of in-game advertising across the industry. Even poorly implemented ads can leverage the contributions of daily user’s revenue by a few cents.  Those incremental value boosts across 10,000+ users that tells a sure pot of cash to be reinvested into UA. 


The interest and influence of in-game advertising have quickly increased. Smartly game design and the application of behavioral analytics have seen the development and optimization of in-game ads dramatic upgrade. For top games it is made possible to generate majority of their revenues from in-game advertising alone, with daily ad revenues reaching an easy $100,000s. Earning six digits and above are attainable using three main ingredients: ad-optimized game design, ad inventory optimization, and an ad-aware UA strategy. Continue reading to know the secrets behind each ingredient.



Ad-optimized game design

Interstitial and rewarded are the two main types of in-game ads. The effectiveness of each type will depend on their timing and placement. Instant churning can also happen with poorly used interstitial. Similarly, only 3 out of 10 players will interact with rewarded ads if their placement and value are wrong.


The best times to put interstitials are during the moments of transition or when a player is unlikely to have their ‘flow’ unnaturally interrupted. An example is when a player navigates between a mission-completed screen and the main game dashboard. Apparently ads seldom affect a negative impact on the retention but that does not implicate that they are already contributing something positive. You may consider not showing an interstitial ad at the time a player is experiencing a crisis like losing level as it may increase the risk of churn immediately.





You can combine many options available in terms of placement ad rewards. Unlike interstitial ads, the most effective time to put a reward ad is when a player is at its negative touch points. Redemption of the game by giving extra life upon level failure, or free energy to boosts the stamina. Reward ads can bring additional revenues and reduce churn. So many kind and combination to choose from: pre-level boosts, mission-reward multiplier, extra daily gifts or even incentives to connect social platforms. All of these aims to improve player sentiment while at the same time boosting the Average Revenue Per Daily Active User (ARPDAU).




Ad inventory optimization

The disadvantage about in-game advertising is that, the ads which appear in your own game are designed to attract and drag players away from your game and jump to theirs instantly. In any business industry where rivalry is never ending, the worst case is your closest competitors who are willing to pay top dollar for access to your players and it is their ads that invariably stunned your audience. You can also ‘play safe’ in other genres and non-game ads even they only generate low-value impressions or low-volume impressions or both. 


Scaling the correct balance is tricky. It is possible to avoid competitor ads a 100 percent but it seriously restraint the potential of your ad revenue.  Also, try to avoid showing completely irrelevant ads to your players because it will not only paltry revenue but also vastly annoy them to churn.


If you want to earn extras, you can serve ads for other genres that have a similar demographic to your own that can pay dividends. Puzzle games and Match-3 games are compatible, as are Collected Card Games (CCG) and Builders. Trialing and working with ad intermediaries to identify well-matched traffic are very important to identifying the correct ad sources.


To conclude, matching your player to different ad sources is crucial as it is the key to retention. Never ignore direct competitor ads as they are too valuable. Just study how to show them lesser or totally hide to your spending players. Learn the behavior of your new payers and spenders so that you can play with your competitors.



Ad-aware UA

Acquiring an optimized supply of ads and specific games to host them is just the starting point. With respect to In-App Purchase (IAP), the art of UA has instantly progressed. Effective publishers will have access to accurate Lifetime Value (LTV) forecasts as early as few days after UA spend. This simplifies that fast iteration is needed to constantly source high-value players.


The arrival of ad monetization has given birth to a new segment of valuable players is known as ad whales. Players basically just need to watch ads and interact with offer walls. Also, because players were being shown ads for games that they were likely to like and enjoy, engagement rates were really high and the value of each brand increased with every successful install. Have a sufficient data and execute the well, a studied strategy can generate positive revenue quickly.

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